Season win totals are becoming an increasingly popular football wager largely
due to the simplicity of the bet. Where most bettors may focus on spreads, money
lines, and game totals, season win totals may actually be the wager that
increases your bankroll by time the NFL regular season concludes. However, just
like any other wager when betting on
football, season win totals require a sensible approach and solid
understanding if you want to find value and make money.
What Are Season Win Totals?
Season win totals are exactly what the name sounds like – the number of wins
a team may have at the end of a season. Online sports betting sites will
set a line for how many games a team may win. This line is designed to get the
most action for bets over and under that number.
Just prior to the start of the 2017 regular season, the Buffalo
Bills were listed as follows:
As you can see, the Bills had a season totals line of 6 with an over at -155
and an under at +125. This means if you believed the Bills would win more than 6
games in 2017, then you would have to bet $155 to win $100. And if you believed
they wouldn’t win 6 games, then you would bet $100 to win $125.
The Buffalo Bills ended up winning 9 games in 2017, which means if you took
the over, then you would have won.
Remember, this bet is only based on the number of wins during the regular
season. It does not include the post-season.
The Pros for Betting Season Win Totals
Like with any other football wager, there are some pros and cons for betting
on season win totals.
Ties up part of your bankroll for the entire season
Have to wait all season long to know if you win or lose your bet
Can be confusing on when to place a season win totals bet
Tips for Betting on NFL Season Win Totals
Season win totals may be easy on the surface, but they do present some
pitfalls if you aren’t careful. To maximize your potential for winning these
wagers, check out the following football betting tips.
Monitor the Offseason
In our article “using
the offseason effectively,” we detail how important the NFL offseason is for
football bettors. Perhaps no other football wager requires you to pay more
attention during the offseason than season win totals.
Depending on which reputable sports betting site you use, season win totals
can be released as early as February after the Super Bowl. However, these lines
and odds will change throughout the course of the offseason due to numerous
reasons like free agency, the Draft, injuries, and suspensions. So by time the
season arrives, bookmakers could’ve adjusted the lines to make them more or less
In May, the Arizona Cardinals were listed at 8 wins for the 2017
season. A few days prior to the start of the season, the Cardinals’ season win
totals line bumped up slightly to 8.5 wins. Another example was the Ravens, who
were listed at 9 wins for the 2017 season in May, but by time September hit, the
line had shifted to 8 wins.
As you can see, in a period of 3 1/2 months, which coincided with OTAs through
training camp and the preseason, Vegas dropped the Ravens’ win total down 1 and
bumped the Cardinals’ up a half.
It’s important to stay updated on what’s going on in the NFL because there
are many factors like training camp and preseason games that can impact the
season win totals by time the NFL regular season starts. And this could really
impact the value and success of your bets.
When to Bet on Season Win Totals?
This is a tricky question to answer because it comes down to a few key
Your ability to
Your ability to
handicap a team
With that said, there are two main strategies for when to bet on season win
Early in the offseason
when the lines first come out
Just prior to the start
of the regular season
Using our example above, if you placed a bet on the Ravens to go over 9 wins
in the spring, then you would’ve pushed your bet because Baltimore finished with
9 wins exactly on the season. Sticking with our example, if you would’ve taken
the under for Arizona winning less than 8 games in 2017, then you would’ve
pushed that bet because they finished with 8 wins.
However, if you were to have waited until September, then you would’ve been
able to get the line at 8.5 wins for the Cardinals and won your bet.
Additionally, you would’ve been able to hit the Ravens bet, too, because the
line dropped from 9 wins to 8 wins, and you would’ve won with the over.
Pros and Cons for Early Offseason Wagers
Early lines may provide better value as the bookmakers have limited
information on teams and are projecting their lines before anything of substance
happens during the offseason. However, as the offseason goes on, sportsbooks
will also have access to the same information as you do, and the lines may be
more difficult to bet on.
Pros and Cons for Late Offseason Wagers
From our example above, it’s clear that the late offseason wagers would’ve
been more successful. When waiting until just before the season starts, you can
monitor what each NFL team does during their offseason and get a better idea on
how many games you think they will win. Just remember, bookmakers will be
monitoring everything as well. So the lines might move to a number that is
unappealing to you or provides no value.
Review Previous Seasons
When season win totals are first released, bookmakers are taking into
consideration what the teams have done in the previous season(s). It’s important
that you also review the previous season’s win total. However, don’t stop there.
You should really take a look at the last few seasons to get a better idea of if
a team is progressing upwards, downwards, is erratic, or any other possible
trend. You can also get an idea on how close the bookmakers were with their
Green Bay Packers
Kansas City Chiefs
Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Rams
New England Patriots
New Orleans Saints
New York Giants
New York Jets
San Francisco 49ers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Now that you are armed with the data of win totals for the last 3 seasons and
how the teams performed against the projected season win totals, you can analyze
what happened over the last few years to gauge how they might do in the upcoming
season. Factors you should pay attention to are:
Great teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots tend to
win double-digit games each season. Looking at the table above, you will see
that the Steelers won 10, 11, and 13 games over the last 3 years. The Patriots
won 12, 14, and 13 over the last 3 seasons. Right there, it’s easy to assume
that these two teams will win double-digit games again. Additionally, both teams
have gone over all three years, so it might be tempting to pick them to go over
Bookmakers also realize this likelihood and have already set the Steelers at
10.5 wins and the Patriots at 11.5 wins for 2018.
Based on what the Patriots did in the offseason and the division they play
in, they should get 12 wins this year. For the Steelers, it might be harder for
them to win 11 games this year, as their AFC North division is tougher and a few
of their divisional foes have improved already, while Pittsburgh hasn’t really
made any significant offseason improvements so far. Also, Pittsburgh has
averaged 11.3 wins over the last 3 years. There’s no real margin for error.
The Buffalo Bills have won 8, 7, and 9 games over the last 3 years. That’s an
average of 8 wins per season. However, early lines for the 2018 season have the
Bills at 6.5 wins. This is largely due to their uncertainty at quarterback
despite the team improving depth along the offensive and defensive lines, the
running back position, and the secondary. Based on their average alone, there’s
a higher margin for error.
Now, before you run off to place wagers on the Patriots and Bills based on
recent win totals, remember that this is just one tip in your overall strategy
for betting on season win totals. The idea is to encompass all of these tips in
order to make the most informed decision.
Study the Upcoming Schedule
Looking ahead to the 2018 season, you can get an idea of potential success
for just about every NFL team. This is a significant step in handicapping teams
and identifying potential wagers. Factors that you will want to consider in this
process are given below.
Since NFL teams play 6 games against their divisional foes, it’s the first
factor you should consider in handicapping a team’s season win total for the
upcoming season. For example, the Patriots have owned the AFC East for the last
decade. With the Dolphins and Jets most likely taking a step backwards due to
early offseason moves, New England has a good chance at sweeping these two
teams. Additionally, the Patriots have had an incredible record against the
Bills over the last decade and have a good chance of sweeping them as well. So
once again, New England has a good chance at winning at least 5 games and
possibly 6 in their division. If that happens, they only need to win 6 of 10
remaining games in order to get to 12 wins and go over the 11.5 projected season
win total for 2018.
Conversely, teams like the Buccaneers are in trouble this year, as the other
3 teams in their division all went to the playoffs last year. Additionally, they
all have made decent moves to improve their rosters, while the Bucs haven’t done
much to close the gap. For 2018, Tampa Bay’s projected win total is at 6.5. So
the question you have to ask is whether or not you think they will win more than
6 games in arguably the toughest NFL division.
As you can see by these two examples, the division they play in is crucial to
their win total on the season.
After the division, a team’s conference schedule is an important factor to
consider. In addition to their 6 divisional games, each team will play another 6
conference games. And depending on which conference division they play, a team
could really improve their overall win total.
In 2017, the Steelers swept the AFC North and then went 4-2 in their
remaining conference games for an overall AFC Conference record of 10-2. Before
you even factor in their non-conference record, Pittsburgh had 10 wins and was
already near their projected season win total of 10.5. The Steelers played the
AFC South division last year, which was the worst division in the AFC for the
2017 season. Their remaining 2 conference games were against the Chiefs and
Patriots who, like the Steelers, won their respective divisions in 2016.
In 2018, Pittsburgh will play the AFC West division, which will be an
improved division, so wins might be harder to come by. Not to mention that they
will also have to play the Patriots and the Jaguars since all 3 teams finished
at the top of their division in 2017. As you can see, their AFC Conference slate
is going to be tougher this year, and they might not hit the double-digit win
total this year.
Just like against an opposing in-conference division, each team will have to
play a division from the other conference. Sticking with our example of the
Steelers above, they will play against the NFC South in 2018. Remember, this is
the division that sent 3 teams to the playoffs last year. One of those games
will be on the road at New Orleans, which is a very tough place for opposing
teams to play. Once again, the 2018 schedule doesn’t look very favorable for
The Jets went 5-7 last year in the AFC, but went 0-4
against the NFC South.
Out-of-conference games are set up so that a division from the AFC will play
a division from the NFC once every 4 years. This means that there’s not as much
familiarity as with in-conference and divisional games. The Jets were a perfect
example of how a winless record against the NFC prevented them from a more
Short weeks refer to when a team has to play on a Sunday and then play again
on Thursday, or they play on a Monday and have to play on a Sunday. This means
the team has fewer days to rest and prepare, which could have a significant
impact on their chances of winning.
Last year, Kansas City had a Sunday game against the Steelers and lost. They
then had to turn around and play the Raiders on a Thursday night game and lost.
Two weeks later, they won on a Monday night game against the Broncos, but then
lost the following Sunday at Dallas. As you can see, these short weeks weren’t
kind to KC.
Keep an eye out for which teams have the most short weeks, as this could have
an impact on their season win totals.
Lots of Traveling
Traveling all over the country for away games can have a detrimental effect
on some teams. It’s common knowledge that west coast teams traveling to the east
coast have a harder time winning. A perfect example of this would be the Oakland
Raiders. In their 4 trips to the east coast during the 2017 season, the Raiders
went 1-3. Furthermore, they also lost their game in Mexico City, which was a
drastic change in elevation.
Keep an eye out for a team’s away schedule, as it will show how much they
have to travel and where to.
Home and Away Games
Speaking of away games, most teams tend to have losing away records and
winning home records. Of the 16 teams in the AFC, only the Steelers and the
Patriots had winning records on the road. Furthermore, only 3 AFC teams had
losing home records. The other 13 teams went at least .500 or better. In the
NFC, only 4 teams had losing records at home.
Make sure that you examine the matchups at home and on the road. This will
have an effect on a team’s potential win/loss record at home and away. Sticking
with the Steelers, we know that they play at the Saints in 2018. They will also
have tough away games against Baltimore, Denver, and Jacksonville. However, they
are fortunate to have home games against tough opponents like the Patriots,
Chiefs, Falcons, and Panthers.
Come up with a Win Total Range
By now, you should have an idea of how many games you think a team will win.
But instead of settling on that specific number, you should create a range with
a plus/minus of 1 game. For example, if you think the Bengals will win 8 games,
then set your range at 7-9 wins.
Let’s dig deeper on how a range can help you with these types of football
After looking at the Steelers in several examples above, let’s continue using
them to further this point. I believe Pittsburgh will win 10 games this season.
So my range would be 9-11 wins. The 2018 line for the Steelers is set at 10.5.
This does not give me much room for error, as the line is at the upper end of me
Keep in mind that I set this range based on Pittsburgh’s tough schedule, lack
of offseason moves, moves by other teams in the division, and their average wins
over the last 3 years. With that said, I don’t feel that betting on the Steelers
to eclipse the 10.5 mark would be a smart wager. Additionally, since I think
they can win 10 games, it’s too close to the 10.5 line to pick the under.
Therefore, I would stay away from Pittsburgh altogether.
Avoid the Shotgun Approach
The shotgun approach refers to placing numerous wagers on season win totals
without any real strategy. It’s the idea that your chances of winning will go up
with more bets. Unfortunately, this is not true. In fact, when it comes to
season win totals, less is better. Avoid the temptation of placing numerous
wagers on season win totals and really focus on a few that have the best chance
Limit your Wagers
Keep in mind, however much you place on season win totals, you will not have
for the regular season. Since we feel that your football betting strategy should
be diverse, by including different types of football wagers, it’s best to limit
the amount of money you place on season win totals. Typically, experienced
bettors will limit their season win totals to a maximum of 5% of their bankroll.
This allows for a healthy amount to be placed on a preseason bet, while still
allowing for the majority of your bankroll to be used during the regular season.
Remember, don’t tie up all of your bankroll for the entire season on these
win total wagers. If you do, then you will most likely miss out on weekly wagers
throughout the season.
Shop Around for Best Lines
One common theme that we always preach is shopping around for the best lines.
In the case of season win totals, a 1/2 game could make all of the difference. If
you remember from our example above, we discussed how the Arizona Cardinals had
a line of 8 wins in May of 2017. The line went up to 8.5 just before the regular
season started. Ultimately, the Cardinals finished the season with 8 wins. So if
you bet on the over any time before September, then you would have lost because
of that 1/2 game difference in the line.
It’s the same concept when shopping for lines. If you believed that the
Cardinals were going to win more than 8 games in 2017, then you should’ve
shopped around to see if you could have found an online bookmaker who had the
over/under at 8 wins, instead of the 8.5 line that we used from a popular site.
In this case, you would’ve pushed instead of losing your wager. But what if you
shopped around and found a betting site that offered the Cardinals at 7.5 wins?
You would have won your bet.
It’s important to take the time to shop around so that you give yourself the
best chance of winning and finding the most value.
Find Value (Look at the Odds)
There are many bettors who feel that season win totals don’t offer much
value. In some sense, they’re right. Not all of the lines will offer value.
However, if you take the time to really examine the lines, implement all of the
tips above, and look at the odds, then you will definitely find a few value
Speaking of odds, make sure they are worth the wager. For example, the Chiefs
have an over/under of 9 wins this season. The under is currently set at -175
odds. That means you would have to risk $175 to win $100.
KC has averaged 11 wins per season over the last 3 years, so some people
might think that the 9-win over/under is a steal. However, if you paid attention
to their offseason moves and saw what other teams in the division have done,
then you would know that 9 wins will be tough for them to attain.
KC traded their starting quarterback, Alex Smith, and plan on going with a
young QB who only played one game during his rookie season last year. They also
got rid of their top corner Marcus Peters and don’t have a player who can lock
down an opponent’s number-1 receiver. So the under looks more appealing due to
these factors. Bookmakers know this and have cranked up the odds to -175 in
order to offset the under action. In my opinion, the Chiefs are an unknown
commodity right now, and risking that much money isn’t worth the wager. It does
not provide value.
Let’s take a look at the Cleveland Browns as an example for finding value.
In the spring of 2017, the Browns had an over/under of 4.5 wins on the
season. By time the preseason had finished, the Browns’ line went up to 5
because Cleveland finished 4-0.
If you watched Cleveland in 2015 and 2016, you would’ve seen how terrible
they were. In fact, they had one of the worst offenses in the league for both
years. Additionally, none of their offseason moves made them significantly
better prior to 2015 or 2016. And playing in the AFC North with 2 perennial
playoff teams in the Ravens and Steelers only makes it that much hard for
Cleveland to win many games. Over the last 5 seasons, the Browns have gone 5-25
in their division. In fact, they haven’t won a divisional game since 2015.
So it wasn’t a surprise to many pundits that Cleveland only won 3 total games
in 2015 and just 1 game in 2016.
By time the 2017 regular season was near, the Browns’ wins total line went up
to 5 wins, and the odds were -125. That means you would have to bet $125 to win
$100. The bookmakers viewed the Browns’ perfect preseason as a reason to bump
the line up to an over/under of 5 wins. I saw the Browns’ perfect preseason, and
bump in the line, as a great value bet for taking the under. Cleveland has been
a bad team for a long time. Until they actually start having consistent winning
seasons, I believe they will continue to vastly underperform. The Browns would
go on to finish the 2017 season with no wins. They became the second team in the
history of the NFL to go 0-16. My under bet of 5 wins easily hit on the Browns.
Heading into the 2018 season, the Browns have an over/under of 4.5 wins and
-120 odds. Once again, I don’t believe they will win that many games, and I plan
on taking the under. I believe the Browns will win 3 games, which puts my range
at 2-4 wins. Although the 4.5 line is close to my range’s top end, it’s still
worth the bet in my opinion.
I typically take the approach of waiting until at least a few preseason games
have finished before betting on season win totals. So if the Browns do well in
the preseason again and their line goes up to 5 wins for 2018, then I will be
sitting pretty, as this is a full game above the high end of my range.
When identifying value, try to follow these suggestions:
Thoroughly analyze the
data for each team
Come up with your win
total range for each team
Compare your win total
range with the actual lines and try to give yourself margin for error
Look at the odds
attached to each line and make sure they’re worth betting
What Is the Public Saying?
Typically, teams that get a lot of media coverage can really influence
inexperienced bettors. This media coverage and favorable public opinion can also
influence the lines that bookmakers set. In our above example with the Browns,
they have been in the media constantly due to several reasons:
Made some big offseason
Had 2 of the top 4
picks in the NFL Draft
Are expected to add
I believe the media attention they have received has influenced the listed
over/under of 4.5 wins for 2018. In reality, we’re still talking about a team
that went winless last year and has only won 4 games in the last 3 years. I’m in
the camp that believes the value is in the under for the Browns in 2018.
Keep an eye on other teams that are highly talked-about during the offseason
and see how their lines shift throughout the next few months.
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